The Civil War is one of the most crucial events that shaped the course of American history, and its outcome had a significant impact on the development of the country that is today the United States of America as we know it. We could have been a divided nation where slavery would have still been something we encountered in our everyday lives. The importance of the Civil War cannot be stressed enough – the victims and losses suffered due to the War will have meaning only if we acknowledge that our freedom and social justice today has a lot to do with the events that occurred during the War.
The conflict between the North and South called the Civil War started because of the many social, economic and political differences between the two separated regions. Both North and South agreed upon the fact that slavery was the immediate cause of the war, although many other aspects may be considered as relevant in the matter. The North and the South were otherwise differentiated as the Union and the Confederates.
In 1793 the cotton gin was invented – a machine used to remove seeds from cotton. This sped up the entire production process, resulting in a higher demand for workforce, which at that time mainly consisted of slaves. It is estimated that roughly four million slaves lived and worked in the Southern economy. About two million of them worked in the cotton fields while the rest worked in homes, on construction sites, mines, as lumberjacks, or in transportation. While the South had an agriculturally oriented economy, the North was rather industrial. Compared to the South, they had five times the factories and generally a bigger population, more than double the South population. Immigrant workers were also common, which only strengthened their economy – society evolved in the North as people of different cultures and classes were used to working together as equals. Conflicts in the South between the individual states kept them from being truly unified and standing strong against their opponent.
An industrial economy is also much more stable than an agricultural one, since it does not depend on its environment. This was also an important factor leading to the win of the North. This also implies that the North was much faster and more effective in producing the goods, including firearms, needed to win a war. Even in an agricultural sense, taking advantage of mechanisation led up to better production in the North, which shows the obvious ressource superiority.
After the Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1863, the North gained control of the entire Mississippi river, which weakened the South even further. Since New Orleans was already defeated, any import or export to the South was difficult. Since the production was already bad, this could already be considered as the definite beginning of the end for the South. Another significant loss was at the Battle of Gettysburg during that same year that gave even more advantage to the North.Not long after Atlanta was captured – the main railroad center of the South – transportation was next to impossible, bringing the victory even closer to the Union.
Politically, a relevant event that actually took place during the war itself were the elections between Abraham Lincoln and George McClellan – Lincoln won, since he had a much stronger opinion on the war (wanting to end it), unlike his opponent. One can consider this win as the crown of the Norths triumph. Lincoln proposed the Emancipation Proclamation in order to legalize black men joining the the army and navy on the Union side, which prevented Great Britain joining the Confederacy.
Looking back, it seems very obvious that the North had deciding advantages. This was nevertheless a result of many decisions and interactions between the two sides – today we mostly look at the Union as ?the good guys since the results of the Civil War brought equality, justice, and freedom to the people. This would probably be a completely different story if the South had won the Civil War. Still, it is our duty to pay our respects to all the men who died for this cause and to always make sure we are looking at history objectively, trying to get the most out of the many difficult losses we suffer, regardless of which side suffered them.
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